Category Archives: Architecture

The Design Aesthetic of Modern Indian Cities

Indian cities have multiple aesthetics. As do all cities, and human settlements of varied sizes all around the world. This has been true right through history.

However Indian cities have a clear demarcation in terms of the urban aesthetics when looked at within the time frame of the last century.

The big four metros, all cities in existence for at least 400 years have an evolved sense of architecture and urban aesthetic that spans from the Mughal times to the British Raj. Each city got its own distinct version of style and look. However this sense of aesthetic took a nosedive post-Independence.

All of a sudden, for every great piece of architecture, there were 100 examples of very banal, characterless buildings. Entire sections of cities, or even entire small cities grew up with no sense of architectural character and style.

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Amtek Offices New Delhi: Ong and Ong Architects

Ong & Ong is a multi-disciplinary design office with various locations in South East Asia, including one in Chennai.

The Amtek Office Building proposal for New Delhi at first glance looks like an Archigram-esque living organism sited on a street

Amtek Office Building

Introducing traditional Indian science of construction, the “Vaastu Shastra,” to modern architecture, the Amtek Office Building with its entrance facing the East seems to bring the flow of energy in building designs. [design.fr]

From their website:

Located on the popular commercial strip in New Delhi, Tolstoy Marg, Amtek is distinctively outstanding even from afar. The concept of Amtek Office Building came about upon client’s request of wanting an iconic building with flexible space. This resulted in Amtek’s oval-shaped, glass-cladded facade and it is built in contrast to New Delhi’s traditional urban setting.

The external façade is fully cladded with glass to allow for maximum exposure and clarity from inside. Alumininum shading devices in the form of “armours” are cleverly constructed on the exterior to shield against its extreme climate. There is a separate lift for the sky restaurant which creates a vertical silhouette against an otherwise annular shape.

Missed Chances and Government Bureaucracy: Louis Kahn and Gandhinagar

Government intervention and babudom are nothing new to India. It has thrived for generations and continues to do so even today. Soon after Independance there was a massive movement to bring the country on par with the Westernised world. New cities and towns was part of that scheme and Nehru, India’s first prime minister took the initiative to invite Le Corbusier to plan Chandigarh. The rest, as they say is history.

Corbusier was not the only architectural giant to leave his stamp on India. Louis Kahn, his contemporary also worked in India around the same time and would design and influence future generations of architects in India.

While Corbusier got the opportunity to design the masterplan and the important architectural pieces of Chandigarh, Kahn, did not get to do it in India. He did design the capital complex of Bangladesh, which then was a new country taking birth.

Paul John writes a very interesting article “With Kahn magic Gandhinagar would have  rivalled Chandigarh” that speaks about the missed opportunity for India and Kahn to design Gandhinagar, the new capital of the new state of Guarat.

If Chandigarh is Le Corbusier’s city, Bhubaneswar bears the German Otto Koenigsberger’s signature, Gujarat’s capital Gandhinagar could have had American yogi Louis Kahn’s imprint — a strong rival to Corbusier’s Chandigarh — had the Indian and Gujarat governments allowed Kahn to design the capitol buildings. Continue reading Missed Chances and Government Bureaucracy: Louis Kahn and Gandhinagar

Indian Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo 2010 Disappoints

On May 01, 2010 the World Expo 2010 opened in Shanghai, China. Besides other things, its a venerable feast of architecture

Countries have come out with their best architectural foot forward and some of the national pavilions are stunning examples of the contemporary architectural vocabulary of those countries. However all attempts to get a better look at the Indian Pavilion at the Expo has been a disappointing task.

Indian-Pavilion-Shanghai-World_Expo_2010

The above picture is one of the few official ones that have been released by the Chinese Expo Authority. And the Director of the Indian Pavilion Rajesh Kumar, can be seen here talking about the design.

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Tesco Sends Design Work to India

Architectural services being outsourced to India is not a new phenomenon. However it usually brings about a lot of negative press in the country from where it is being outsourced.

British retail giant Tesco is outsourcing preliminary design and surveying to architects in India. The article below in Building UK, raises concerns about lost opportunity and jobs.

As the world recovers from an economic slump, its comes as no surprise that corporations are moving tasks to countries that prove to be more cost effective.

Tesco sends design and QS work to India

By Sophie Griffiths / Building UK

Fears raised over future of UK supply chain as supermarket giant outsources early project work

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Mario Botta in India

Swiss architect Mario Botta needs no introduction. His work around the world speaks volumes of the master architect. And his projects in India for Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) are a continuation of his excellence in the field.

Mario Botta: Swiss architect who designed TCS offices

By Ishani Duttagupta & Neha Dewan, ET Bureau

For well-known Swiss architect and urban designer Mario Botta, India has definitely been among the shaping influences of his style. “The past is very important for my work and so is the environment and climate of a place. All this translates into a modern architectural genre,” says Botta who has worked on various urban architecture projects around the world. The past, he says, makes up 95% of the current place in which we stay.

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When style was substance: Mumbai in the 1930s

Urban housing these days has increasingly become a matter of “lifestyle.”

By Ashoak Upadhyay / Business Line

Builders do not erect an apartment block or two; they build cities within cities; rows upon rows of residential towers peppered with landscaped gardens, swimming pool, jogging track and clubhouse. The customer does not come home simply to four walls enclosing space; he enters arcadia.

But what about the house itself? Can the artifice of landscaped gardens and swimming pools built on the graveyards of mangrove swamps and nature’s waterways compensate for the banality of mass housing architecture? The dreariness of Mumbai’s Cuffe Parade high-rises is matched by the lifelessness uniformity of building facades or interior layouts in the newer colonies at Powai and Andheri.

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Balkrishna Doshi Rues Lack of Ideas

doshi Poverty of ideas and a lack of social commitment in many of India’s contemporary architects could leave us with no skyline we can call our own two decades from now, fears visionary architect-planner Balkrishna Vithaldas Doshi.

“What will happen to our cities after 20 years? We have no public realm, no urban development, no museums, no civic spaces and no institutions to inspire us,” the Padmashri awardee lamented while speaking at an interactive session organised by Ambuja Realty at the CII Suresh Neotia Centre of Excellence for Leadership on Tuesday evening.

Doshi gave the city its first “large-format, socio-economically tiered” housing in the shape of Udayan, The Condoville. The architect, who had worked for four years (1951-54) with Le Corbusier as senior designer in Paris, and then in India to supervise Corbusier’s projects in Ahmedabad and Chandigarh, felt modern India wasn’t creating any architectural heritage we could be proud of 20 years on.

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The Egg Comes to Mumbai: James Law and Cybertecture

Bindu Gopal Rao speaks to James Law, known across the globe for cybertecture. After the Pad Tower in Dubai, he is now coming up with a cybertecture egg in Mumbai, a unique project built without a single column.

“My career has been nothing less than an adventure,” declares James Law, Chairman and Chief Cybertect of James Law Cybertecture International. This company founded in 2001 offers services including architecture, master planning, interiors, multimedia, information technology and strategic planning, based on a first-of-its-kind platform called Cybertecture. Excerpts from an exclusive interview with DH Realty.

On his journey

I believe that in the limited time we are here we should be lucky to find our innate talent and use it to improve others’ lives by designing buildings and cities. Post my studies at UK, I went to Japan at the beginning of the 90s and began to realise that using a creative mind and technology would be the way forward. My aim is to be a visionary and an innovator and offer a new way of doing things and changing the old order. 

realty-5 In fact, I started my company on January 1, 2001 – a date 01/01/01 to signify a new millennium and a new way of thinking. Today we have offices in Hong Kong, Dubai and Mumbai. When I started there were challenges as no one was willing to give me a project but I was clear that we must plan for the future. However the challenge to translate ideas into action and reach out to a critical mass is what makes this journey thoroughly enjoyable.

Concept of Cybertecture

In the old days construction material was glass, wood, stone and concrete. Today’s new age world has changed with invisible information, interactivity with Information technology (IT), information on the Internet and the collective power of new sciences.

I really see no difference between an iPhone and a building or why a building cannot keep us safe.

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Bobby Mukherjee : Sad State of Indian Architecture

Indian architecture scene is sad, rues Aamby Valley architect

By Shilpa Raina for Thaindian.

He is the man who recreated the luxurious living experience of America’s Beverly Hills with the famous Aamby Valley project in Maharashtra. But Bobby Mukherji believes that post-independence Indian architecture has little to be proud of.

“We have shown people enough monuments and architecture from history, but what have we done after independence? Nothing! If you look around, we lure the West with monuments made in the Moghul era. After that it’s zilch,” Mukherji, who is in his 30s, told IANS.

“I would like to do something for today,” he said.

Perhaps he already has – by designing the master plan of Aamby Valley in Lonavala, Maharashtra, which is spread over 10,000 acres of land and offers all facets of luxury living. It took shape during 1998-2003.

Continue reading Bobby Mukherjee : Sad State of Indian Architecture